January 23, 2022

Canyon Sages Circulates Public Transport Survey — Please Respond


The Canyon Sages, the Topanga Town Council’s fun new group for seniors of any age, has a new goal: to explore whether it might be feasible to bring public transportation to Topanga’s senior community. In consultation with the county, the Sages is circulating a survey so they can properly assess senior transportation needs and requests all seniors over 55 to respond.

With no year-round bus service, Topanga seniors are currently underserved, as is the community as a whole. Seniors can apply through a cumbersome process for the LA County Public Works Dial-a-Ride. It serves people over 65 and their caregivers in the unincorporated areas of the county, but does not operate on weekends or holidays and does not serve many of the more difficult-to-reach areas of Topanga. Even in the areas Dial-a-Ride serves, they may decide they can’t access certain driveways or private access roads.

In order to ride, people must pay a fee to apply, buy a book of scrip, give 24 hours notice (48 for medical appointments) and be waiting curbside at both ends for pickup. For Dial-a-Ride service, a person must also be able to enter the vehicle unassisted by the driver.

There is a back-up discounted taxi service available 24/7 at a higher rate. Also, Access is a van service that operates for the disabled of any age with similar time and day restrictions. These services are funded by Prop A funds approved by the voters.

There has been a host of complaints about the service’s limitations in Topanga. Cynthia Scott, field deputy for Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, is trying to address those concerns. She is in the process of lining up Topanga contacts at Dial-a-Ride and Access so that people will know who to reach to report problems and receive prompt assistance. Meanwhile, Scott says seniors can call her to report problems they have experienced at the Supervisor’s local field office, (818) 880-9416.

But even if Dial-a-Ride and Access become more useful to Topangans, those services can’t meet the whole need. The Sages would like to find out if able seniors would support public transportation — a beach bus kind of service that would run certain days year ‘round. Even in these tight times, there may be more Prop A funds available if a need can be shown.

Sr. Field Deputy Susan Nissman and Scott have begun talks with the Town Council and Canyon Sages leaders to explore public transportation options. If Topanga did eventually get a bus, the Sages would try to set up a buddy system of drivers to help get seniors to the bus stop.

All agree the first step must be to assess need. For that reason, a new Sages Transport Survey will be circulated throughout the Canyon. Seniors are asked what days and times of the week they would be most likely to use public transportation and if they did take public transport, where they would be most likely to go. It’s a simple, five-minute survey that might mean big things for Topanga’s seniors.

Seniors over 55 can go on the new community-wide website, onetopanga.com, or the Sages’ web page at topangatowncouncil.org to complete the survey. If you are a member of Sages, please respond to the e-mail survey coming your way. Members without e-mail will see that survey soon in their mailbox.

If Topanga can get regular public transport for seniors, other underserved ages might not be far behind. Beach bus ridership grew this year; maybe it’s time all of Topanga has access to a year-round service. So complete the survey and send it in.

Got questions or want to join the Canyon Sages? Call Michele Johnson at (310) 455-1319.